Tanned Skin – A Status Symbol?

Is tanned skin still a trend? According to a survey by the German IKW – Association for Body Care and Detergent Industry – 42 percent of consumers prefer their skin to be lightly tanned. 19 percent want a slightly more intense tan and – fortunately – only four percent find their skin most beautiful when deeply tanned. And you can achieve this without damaging UV rays.

Tanned skin – where does this preference come from? 45 percent of the study participants stated that they felt more attractive with it. Women in particular said that it made their summer outfits stand out better. The latter was particularly important to 18 to 29-year-olds. For men, a summer tan seems to be more of a status symbol: Almost 25 percent admitted to using it to show others that they can afford to spend a lot of time in the sun on various vacations – usually far away.

Tanned skin – once a blemish

Seeing a tanned skin as something positive is one of the achievements of our modern world. Until 100 years ago, paleness was the order of the day for people who thought highly of themselves. A tan was considered a flaw. It marked farmers, slaves and sailors, while the upper classes covered every square inch of their bodies to avoid getting a tan. People even went to the beach in full costume so that not a single ray of sunlight hit their bare skin.

Quite different today. People are really working on their “summer glow”. Preferably by sunbathing (50% of respondents). Those who can’t manage that resort to self-tanning (11%). And eight percent still use a sunbed, arguing that it “prepares the skin for the sun“.

However, this is utter nonsense, because just because the skin is more tanned, this does not extend its own protection time in the sun. This can only be achieved with a sun cream (preferably LF 50) that is applied generously and several times throughout the day. In contrast, a single visit to a solarium is equivalent to damaging the skin in the same way as ten sunbathing sessions under natural conditions.

Finding the right self-tanner

Opinions are divided when it comes to self-tanners for tanned skin. Some people use theirs almost obsessively, while others are still looking for “Mr. Right”. I’m one of the latter. Either I don’t like the texture because the tanner is sticky, or it gets streaky on the skin or the smell is unsympathetic to me. Admittedly, the days when self-tanners had this typical, extremely unpleasant, sour smell are long gone. The formulations have also been further developed so that they are quickly absorbed and conjure up a natural glow. They are available for different skin tones and tanning levels.

To find the right product for your skin and your requirements, you should consider the following: What do I want to achieve with it and how much practice do I already have in applying fake tanners is. Transparent spray formulations are ideal if you are looking for a product that gives your complexion a hint of a tan, especially during the day.

The mousse and mitt method

For example, if you want to see exactly where you have already applied “color” on your body, the classic mousse and mitt method is the best option. The foamy tanning cream is applied with an applicator glove and washed off after the individual application time: After one hour, a slight glow appears, after two to three hours the tan is clearly visible. The supplied glove not only makes application easier, it also prevents blotchy results and, above all, ugly tan marks on the hands.

Some manufacturers recommend for a tanned skin the overnight mousse tanning. Bed linen and sleepwear should not become discolored. However, to be on the safe side or if you sweat a lot, I would recommend an old sheet and black nightwear. Even after a tanning shower, which I tried once, my white underwear was discolored. Fortunately, it all comes out again when you wash them.

Tan drops are practical, especially for the face, because you can control the degree of tanning. These drops for a tanned skin are simply mixed into your day cream. The effect is even more subtle with so-called gradual tanners for the face or body. They only contain a small amount of the active tanning ingredient DHA, but more skin care ingredients. The tanning effect can be enhanced by regular application.

Sugar as a browning agent

Incidentally, the tanning active ingredient is the same in all products, namely a type of sugar such as dihydroxyacetone (DHA for short) and erythrulose. It reacts with the protein building blocks of the keratinized cells on the surface of the skin and forms brown pigments called melanoids. Not to be confused with melanin, which is produced in the deeper layers of the skin. The two are not identical, which is why the artificially produced tan often does not look quite as natural as a real summer complexion.

Self-tanners also have no sun protection function. If you go out in the sun without UV protection, you run the risk of sunburn. Depending on how much DHA or erythrulose is contained in a product, the tanning effect occurs after one to six hours. Erythrulose generally tans more slowly, but more discreetly and longer lasting than DHA. Did you know? For around ten percent of the population, DHA does not work at all and the hoped-for a tanned wkin does not appear.

Storing self-tanners correctly

Dihydroxyacetone is considered a potentially critical ingredient as soon as it is exposed to strong heat. It then decomposes, producing formaldehyde. This colorless substance is considered carcinogenic, but is also formed naturally by the metabolism of humans and mammals. It is possible to prevent the formation of formaldehyde by storing the product.

The following therefore applies: Never expose self-tanners to extreme heat or direct sunlight. Even in the bathroom cabinet it can get too warm. It is better stored in a cool, dark place. Even the vegetable compartment of the fridge or the fridge door is suitable for storage. Dispose of opened browners after three months, at the latest when the best-before date has expired. Unfortunately, consumers cannot determine whether formaldehyde has formed in the product. So if in doubt, it is better to dispose of it.

Exfoliate first

The basic prerequisite for a beautiful tanned skin is that the it has been thoroughly exfoliated beforehand. The tan then lasts for an average of seven to ten days. From the fifth day onwards, it gradually begins to fade and looks less even. If spots appear, it’s time to exfoliate again to thoroughly remove the color residue and start a new tanning session. But there are also a few tips to prolong your tan.

The most important one: don’t take a bath, but rather a short, lukewarm shower, as the combination of high temperature and water causes the tan to flake off prematurely. After showering, pat your skin dry with a towel instead of rubbing. Then apply moisturizer. This not only makes the skin look beautifully nourished, but also prevents dryness and thus flaking of the tan. Oil-based skin care creams are unfavorable because they break down the tanning molecule DHA more quickly. If your tanned skin is not yet too blotchy, you can spice it up with a second layer of fake tan.

Glitter instead of tanner

If you fail in the preparation, you will fail in the result. As I said, the best tanning product won’t help if you haven’t thoroughly exfoliated your skin millimeter by millimeter beforehand. All dead skin cells must be removed, as well as traces of perfume or deodorant, as they can discolor the tan. Apply a thin layer of moisturizer to the knees, elbows and ankles before applying the tanner. This is because these areas tend to absorb too much of the coloring agent and then become darker than the rest.

One last tip: If you prefer not to let DHA get on your skin, you can use a body oil with glitter pigments. These tiny particles reflect the sunlight and make the skin’s surface appear even. It also saves time and effort. Oils are particularly suitable for very dry skin, as they nourish and, unlike self-tanning products, do not stain the skin.

Selbstbräuner, selftanner, tanned skin

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